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The Ultimate Productivity Hack: How To Make Time For Everything

The Ultimate Productivity Hack: How To Make Time For Everything

We all have our own favourite productivity methods and tools. There's the GetThingsDone approach, the Pomodoro technique , Seinfeld's Don't Break the Chain method and many more to choose from, not to mention a hundred different productivity apps on the PlayStore and iTunes. And yet, we never seem to have enough time to do things we want.

Over the last few years, I've been steadily working towards creating a life I really want, and enjoy, one painfully conscious step at a time. I'm not fully there yet. But I'm way ahead from where I started. So today, let me share how I'm working towards "having it all" or at least, having the time for it all. Perhaps it can help you get a step closer too.
  1. Define 'everything'
Do you want to be the first tourist to the moon? Do you want to be President of the US? Do you want to own a big factory? Or do you really need that iPhone 6? Probably not. Instead of pining after everything - step back and try to define things that matter the most to you. What would it take for you to feel content and like you have everything ?

One way to look at it would be to imagine the ideal life - what would you do if you didn't have to work for money? What would you like life to be like when you retire? Use that to come up with your definition of everything.

Everyone has their own priorities, but things that make most people feel good are intangible, the kind you can't buy with money. For me, defining everything was quite simple - time to enjoy with loved ones, a comfortable lifestyle, health, and a chance to keep learning, and helping.
  1. Make a list of what you're willing to give up
Look around for some role models; people who you think have 'everything'. Once you find them, look deeper for what they've had to give up to be where they are today. The jet setting CEO doesn't really get quality time with his family. No matter what he says in the press or interviews. He also probably travels with a full medicine cabinet or a doctor to manage his blood pressure, ulcers and the constant jet lag.

What are you willing to give up? I didn't want to waste hours each day in long commutes. So, I moved to a smaller city. I wanted more time with my son. So, I quit a stressful job and started working for myself, from home. I wanted to feel less frazzled. So, I cut the cable subscription.

Once you realise you have to give up one version of everything, to get your version of everything, at that point life becomes a bit more manageable.
  1. Forget about balancing work and life
I'm tired of productivity gurus talking about work-life balance. Ask most working parents - they know there's no such thing as work-life balance. Work is a part of life, as is everything else. You need to balance life. That means balancing office work (the job that you get paid for) with all the other work (house work, chores, paying the bills, feeding the kids) along with the non-work part of things (having fun, sleeping, pursuing hobbies).

The people who have it all don't talk about a work-life balance because they've blended work and life. They recognize that work and everything else in life are woven together; and thus stop trying to compartmentalise them.
  1. Recognize how you use your time
Again, most productivity techniques talk about focussing on the task at hand. Avoid multi-tasking. But honestly, it eludes me. In today's always connected world, we're constantly multi-tasking: replying to a business mail while in another meeting, checking mail or catching up on an e-book while on the treadmill. So, instead of always trying to focus on one task at hand, or force my day into the Pomodoro technique, I find it works better for me to mentally create buckets of single focus tasks versus those that I can multi-task. I mark off dedicated time to the numbing, mundane tasks that eat up time - like calling up the Internet provider to get that bill corrected - and don't chide myself for being less productive during those hours. Those are also tasks that need to get done and take up time and energy.
  1. Stop worrying about what others think or have
Let's face it, a large part of the wanting it all is simply peer pressure. TV advertisements, huge billboards blocking the road, advertorials masquerading as newspapers and Facebook updates everyday with someone bragging about the hottest car, the amazing vacation or the grand 4000 sq ft house they just moved into, the pressure is immense. Constant nagging reminders of things we do not have at the moment drives us to somehow feel less worthy, less happy with our lives, and to want more of what they have. I'm sure if tomorrow some ad agency were to champion mansions on the moon, soon the average Joe would start craving it as well.

Image: Thinkstock

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